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Ringing in the ears: learn about your options

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Ringing in the ears is a symptom of tinnitus

Tinnitus is a condition which is sometimes related to hearing loss. But it can have many causes, including exposure to loud noise, ageing, ear infections, and injury. Ringing in the ears is a symptom of tinnitus, and it's a result of your brain trying to compensate for the loss of hair cells in your ear. Tinnitus can also be experienced as a hissing, roaring, or buzzing sound.

Tinnitus affects about 13% of the UK population. For some people, it can have a severe impact on their daily life, and it can cause anxiety, stress, anger, and sleep problems.

Our brief online tinnitus test can help you understand whether you have tinnitus symptoms (such as ringing in the ears) and/or hearing loss. The two conditions are often experienced at the same time.

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Online tinnitus test

People with tinnitus often experience hearing loss too. Our quick online tinnitus test can help give you an idea of whether or not you might have tinnitus and/or hearing loss, and what you can do about it.

Question 1
Do you ever experience ringing or buzzing sounds in your ear(s) when no external sound is present?
Do you ever have trouble falling asleep or concentrating due to any ringing or buzzing sounds in your ear(s)?
Do you ever have trouble following conversations because you don’t hear properly?
Do you find yourself turning up the volume on the TV or radio louder than normal?

Your result:

Indications of tinnitus and hearing loss

 

Your answers indicate that you may experience symptoms of tinnitus and hearing loss. We recommend that you visit one of our clinics. There are hearing aids that can treat your hearing loss and might give you relief from your tinnitus.*

* The result of the test may only be used for guidance. Official conclusions about hearing loss/tinnitus can be provided by our registered hearing care experts.



Book a FREE hearing test in a clinic near you

Your result:

Indications of hearing loss

 

Your answers indicate that you may experience symptoms of hearing loss but it's unlikely that you have symptoms of tinnitus. We recommend that you visit one of our clinics to to see if you have a hearing loss that should be treated.*

* The result of the test may only be used for guidance. Official conclusions about hearing loss/tinnitus can be provided by our registered hearing care experts.



Book a FREE hearing test in a clinic near you

Your result:

Symptoms of tinnitus indicated

 

Your answers indicate that you may experience symptoms of tinnitus. We recommend that you read about tinnitus treatment options to learn about how to cope with and find relief from tinnitus symptoms.*

* The result of the test may only be used for guidance. Official conclusions about hearing loss/tinnitus can be provided by our registered hearing care experts.

Your result:

Tinnitus or hearing loss unlikely

 

Your answers indicate that it is unlikely that you have tinnitus - or that you have non-bothersome tinnitus that is not currently affecting your everyday life. If you experience symptoms of tinnitus in the future, we recommend visiting one of our hearing clinics. 

* The result of the test may only be used for guidance. Official conclusions about hearing loss/tinnitus can be provided by our registered hearing care experts.

Step 1 of 5

What causes ringing in the ears?

There are several causes for ringing in the ears. The most common is exposure to loud noises which damage the tiny hair cells in the inner ear. The ringing sound is the result of your brain trying to compensate for the loss of hair cells.

Common causes of ringing in the ears:

  1. Exposure to loud noise
  2. The natural ageing process
  3. Infections in the middle ear
  4. Emotional distress
  5. Diabetes
  6. Negative reactions to medicine
  7. Head or neck injury
  8. Intolerance to noise (hyperacusis)
  9. Untreated medical conditions like Ménière’s disease and otitis (ear infection)

Take online tinnitus test

Treatment for ringing in the ears

While there's no miracle cure for ringing in the ears, there are several ways that you can reduce the impact it has on your quality of life. Below are some techniques that can be effective in managing the ringing in your ears.

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1. Sound therapy
Sounds therapy programs can reduce the contrast between quiet environments and ringing sounds in the ears
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2. Hearing aids
Since they deliver more sound to your brain, you may notice tinnitus sounds less when wearing hearing aids
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3. Relaxation and mindfulness
Meditation and yoga have proven to be helpful in relieving the effects of ringing in the ears
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4. Hearing protection
Wearing protective hearing gear (such as ear plugs) can be an effective way to prevent damage from loud noises

Get relief from ringing in the ears with sound therapy

Sound therapy is a form of tinnitus relief that allows you to listen to therapeutic sounds through your hearing aids in order to balance out the sounds associated with tinnitus.

Sound therapy can be a helpful way to manage tinnitus symptoms. While it can't completely get rid of the ringing, it can mask the tinnitus so that it becomes much less noticeable. This masking process takes place when you begin to focus your attention on other noises besides those associated with tinnitus or ringing in the ears.

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Using hearing aids to treat ringing in the ears

Hearing aids can be used to treat both hearing loss and ringing in the ears since they simultaneously help you hear better, while also masking tinnitus sounds by amplifying the sounds around you.

You're able to hear more with less effort while also reducing the loudness of any ringing in the ears.


Many modern hearing aids also offer a sound therapy feature which allows you to play some therapeutic sounds (such as white noise) in the hearing aids which further mask the tinnitus.


Hearing aid brands and models

Hearing loss and ringing in ears

Many people who experience ringing in the ears also have hearing loss, even if they’re not aware of it. If you’re experiencing any signs or symptoms of tinnitus (such as ringing in the ears), then you might benefit from wearing hearing aids.

80% of those with tinnitus also have hearing loss

Because hearing aids send more sound to your brain, the symptoms of tinnitus may become less troublesome.

And since your hearing aids improve your ability to hear, it becomes easier to focus on other sounds around you. So your focus will be steered away from any tinnitus-related sounds (such as ringing in the ears).

Take online tinnitus test

 

Common challenges

Those who experience ringing in the ears may become sensitive to noisy places, like crowded restaurants or bars with loud background music. They may even begin to avoid these environments all together.

If left untreated, ringing in the ears can lead to:

  • Concentration problems
  • Isolation
  • Sleep disorders
  • Anger and irritability
  • Increased sensitivity to loud environments

While some may find it easier than others to ignore tinnitus symptoms, it can have a negative impact on quality of life when experienced over extended periods of time.

Ringing in the ears FAQs

Ash Tulley
Ashley Tulley, Hearing Aid Audiologist and Member of the Society of Hearing Aid Audiologists (MSHAA)

Ashley has worked at Hidden Hearing for 14 years, and has been fully qualified for 11 of those. He started out as a fitter in both the Stockport clinic and in the wider North West region before going on to become a full-time hearing aid dispenser. He is now currently the hearing aid dispenser in the Stafford clinic. He has been a practice educator and mentor to Hidden Hearing's new dispensers for the last 10 years. He has a foundation degree in hearing aid audiology.


Sources:

1. Beck D.L. (2012) British Academy of Audiology. Podium presentation.

2. Al-Swiahb, J., & Park, S. N. (2016). Characterization of tinnitus in different age groups: A retrospective review. Noise & health, 18(83), 214–219. https://doi.org/10.4103/1463-1741.189240